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Your drumming can get worse for short periods along the upward journey towards being a pro. This can be a natural occurrence as long as it’s temporary and viewed in the big picture of total progress.
I’ve felt my drumming was getting worse occasionally, and it’s not a fun place. Afterall, this study shows music is actually getting worse!
For example, I’ll practice my single strokes in the table of time exercise, and I’ll be able to play twelve hits at 59 bpm. The next day I can only fit in eleven hits at the same bpm, and I have to adjust down on the metronome.
This is frustrating, but I have to remember the overall progress chart concerning years and not days as a drummer. Two steps forward, one step back.
Do You Have a Strong Health Foundation for Drumming?
Remember, like most things in life, you need a strong foundation to perform well. We all know many famous drummers partied all night long and didn’t physically take care of themselves.
Am I one of these freaks of nature? No. I’ve found that, over the years, when I’m praying and meditating regularly, my drumming is better. It’s common sense. When my mind is clearer and more relaxed, I’m able to focus on my playing at the moment.
Besides, when I’m mentally healthy, I’m more receptive and aware of my fellow musicians at the moment, and therefore I can react to them and play supportively.
In addition to paying attention to these areas, I usually eat well and do a little aerobic exercise every day, which supports my drumming.
I’ve seen a direct correlation in the quality of my drumming compared to my overall state of being that same day.
I think many musicians feel they can ignore other parts of their life and still be great players.
For many of us drummers, that is simply not true. Is it true for you? Have you noticed that you play better when you’re in a healthy state of being?
Having a Strong Drum Rudiment Foundation?
The rudiments of drumming are crucial so that you don’t get worse over time. Many players like to take shortcuts and skip practicing rudiments, but you’re only harming your playing.
The rudiments can be applied all over the drum set, and they are used consistently in every musical style.
Your temporary regressions as a drummer can become longer and more challenging to overcome if you don’t have a strong rudiment foundation.
A strong foundation allows you to make course corrections more quickly as a progressing drummer.
How Do You Actually Progress at Drumming?
To develop a real plan for progressing as a drummer, you will need to experiment a little. Everyone is different concerning their areas of focus and weaknesses.
For me, to progress as a drummer and not get worse, I need to keep practicing my single strokes. It’s always been difficult for me to develop speed and accuracy with my single strokes, so I address this every time I sit down to practice.
Pay attention to the specific lessons and exercises that have impacted your playing positively.
For example, my dynamics have improved dramatically by practicing Giribaldi’s accent sheet. I notice that when I play to songs using my headphones, I play much better and dynamically if I’ve recently been practicing that accent sheet.
As soon as I started strengthening my hands and focusing on my pinkie with finger exercises, my drumming improved dramatically because my hands didn’t get tired or sore while playing.
Someone else may need to strengthen their double strokes or bass drum playing with their right foot. Determine specific areas of focus and notice how they are contributing to your progress as a drummer.
Remember, it’s easy to stay in a comfort zone and not stretch yourself. If you’re sitting on the drumset to play along with songs without ever practicing specific areas, you have no right to complain about getting worse.
How Long Does it Take to Get Good at Drumming?
First, you need to remember that playing drums well is not very natural for most people. In fact, I would say playing drums is difficult for most beginners.
The time it takes to get good enough to play in a band situation differs for everyone. If you want to shorten the timeline for getting good, I suggest you pay attention to your specific weaknesses and start to address them systematically.
I was playing with others in a band situation within a year of beginning drums. Saying that I took lessons seriously and practiced diligently when I started in my twenties.
What is the main area you need to focus on so others want to play with you? An obvious area of concern is time. If you don’t have good time, nobody wants to play with you.
Therefore, address that by practicing everything to a metronome. Become one with your metronome!
Metronomes don’t lie.
You may “think” you’re playing with good time, but find out on a recording that you don’t sound as good as you previously believed.
What Motivates You When You Feel Your Drumming Getting Worse?
When you get off track and frustrated, what can bring you back to the drum set? For me, it’s always watching a video of my favorite players!
I get so motivated watching someone like Bill Stewart play. It creates inner excitement to get better as a drummer.
Keep some tools you can utilize in these times of weakness.
It can also help to take a break from drumming. Don’t play for a few days, and then start listening to different types of music.
See if this short respite allows more ideas to develop and, therefore, motivate you to get back to your craft.
I’m convinced that if drumming is in your blood, you “have to” come back and play again, or else you just don’t feel right. That is definitely the case for me. I would lose my mind if I could not pay drums or my acoustic guitar ever again. For some reason, I was born with that need to create music of some kind.
Is that true for you?
Getting worse at drumming for a short period is a natural frustration along the journey to mastery. You will just have to make course corrections and remember where you are compared to a whole year ago.
Have you progressed from a year ago? If not, you’re obviously not practicing much or you may have some foundational, personal issues that are stymying your progress.
Be honest with yourself and open to address specific areas, which are hindering your progress.
Which areas of your drumming do you feel have regressed?